Reunions Keep Rolling For Hazleton Class Of ’42
SUGARLOAF TWP. — When members of the Hazleton High School Class of 1942 gathered for their 70th reunion six years ago, they talked about how it would be their last.
But it wasn’t long after that veteran reunion planner Jennie (Miranda) Stola began receiving telephone calls.
“Some classmates objected and wanted more reunions to happen,” recalled Stola, of Tresckow.
And so, Stola — along with fellow graduate Minter Amelia Morgan — planned one for the 71st. In fact, the two haven’t stopped organizing reunions, and on Sunday afternoon, the class marked its 76th reunion at Tom’s Kitchen.
“We’ve been here for the last five years in a row and we expect to be here again. As long as anybody can come. Even if there are two or three, and I’m alive, I will get in touch with them and they will be here,” said Morgan, of northern New Jersey.
Stola and Morgan were joined by three other classmates: John Hospidor, Isabel (Palaggi) Moratto and Lois (Schwartz) McBride. All are either 93 or 94 years old.
They talked, looked over yearbooks and pointed out friends on photographs from previous reunions. They smiled, laughed, reminisced.
“I used to be in the same homeroom as Jennie,” Morgan said. “I used to draw funny faces to entertain her.”
With an estimated 684 graduates, the Class of 1942 was the school’s largest at that time.
“We were so big our homeroom was in the cafeteria,” Morgan remembered.
And a class of that size meant that reunions were always well attended.
The first reunion was the fifth, which featured a picnic in Weatherly and a dinner dance at the former Altamont Hotel. Other reunions were held at Genetti’s Motor Lodge, Lobitz’s, Edgewood in the Pines and Top of the 80s and the Valley Country Club.
As the years wore on, attendance began to dwindle. The 70th reunion brought 23 attendees. Last year, nine came.
“You can see, we are losing people. Naturally. It’s just natural. We lost one of our very favorites, Danny Fornataro, just this past year,” Morgan said.
With each passing, Stola marks the name and date in a binder next to the classmates’ senior pictures.
Numbers may be dwindling, but the group welcomes others to the reunion.
“This year we actually have more guests than classmates,” Morgan noted. “So, we have a very eclectic collection of people here.”
For example, one woman began attending in the last few years because she wanted to meet the people her late husband graduated with.
“He never came to a reunion — and she was never at a reunion. She’s having a wonderful time,” Morgan said.
Others come with family members, friends or neighbors.
Beverly (Deren) Muller is also a welcome guest, and one who comes each year in honor of her father, the late Henry Deren.
“He graduated at 15. He was brilliant,” Morgan said of Deren.
Deren died three years ago, according to Muller, of Newtown. A World War II veteran, Deren was a school teacher and an officer in the United States Navy. He was called back to service to program computers during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Despite his career and travels, Deren never forgot Hazleton High.
“He loved every second of these reunions. He had a great love of classmates,” said Muller, who began accompanying her father to the reunions about 16 years ago. “My husband and I got to love the people in the class. When he died, as a tribute to him, we decided to keep coming because we love the classmates. They’re delightful. I hope they live to be 100 and more.”
Morgan, who sat next to Muller, joked that the group is “indestructible.”
Even if she’s the last remaining member, she said, she has plans for the reunions to continue each year.
“I told my sister, ‘If I’m alive and nobody’s coming, we are coming to Tom’s Kitchen. We are going to say a prayer for the deceased, and we will come until it’s over,’” Morgan said.
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